Posts Tagged Best of 2011

Part One: Games 16 – 25
Part Two: Games 6 – 15
In what was another fantastic year in the world of iOS gaming, we are here to bring you the titles that we, the staff of 148Apps, thought were the best of the year. Here are our top five picks for the Best Games of 2011:

5. Tiny Tower: Listening to some of the most prominent voices in gaming journalism right now, so-called ‘social’ and ‘free to play’ games are the scourge of the industry, and will bring forth the end of gaming as we know it, or at least a cowpocalypse. Of course, the problem is more that these games tend to be designed for nefarious purposes, to try and suck every last penny out of players’ wallets. Tiny Tower was one of the few to not do this. It does a lot of the little things right – from giving out its credits through completing in-game actions, to providing things for players to do while actually checking in on the game, to feel compelling yet fair.

I spent weeks on end compulsively checking my tower, managing where my little bitizens should be working, and making that building go higher and higher. I eventually stopped – my tower was very large, and I didn’t necessarily feel the need to make it bigger, and I had other ways to spend time when on my iPod. But there’s just a satisfaction in knowing that a game is designed in a way that if I wanted to get back in, I could, and wouldn’t have any negative effects waiting for me if I did so. This is a shining example of what the industry needs to do with their free to play titles, as it is infinitely more satisfying than the ones that make me feel like they just want my money.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-06-23 :: Category: Games

4. Tiny Wings: This wasn’t supposed to happen. A game made almost entirely by one guy in Germany, with no promotion whatsoever, shooting to the top of the charts? Sure, in the early days of the App Store, back in 2009, it would seem believable; but here in 2011, for this to happen? It seems impossible. But it’s clear to see why it did just that: its watercolor graphics, adorable bird protagonist, and simple-yet-unique gameplay mechanic all combined to make a hit game that just happened to be picked up by people…then by a few more…then a lot more…then suddenly everyone was talking about this ingenious little game made by some unknown developer that now everyone was playing. I still don’t know how it happened, but I’m sure glad it did.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-18 :: Category: Games

3. Infinity Blade 2: There was one iOS game that made me cry this year. This was not it. It should have, though. Due to glitches with iCloud, I lost my built-up characters twice. On consecutive nights. A lesser game would have made me throw it down in frustration, delete it, and never speak of it again. I guess it says a lot about a game that I could pick it up again for hours on end, after any practical benefit to playing it had eroded, whether it had been to simply review the game or even after I had beaten it. There I would sit on my couch, continuing to hack away at enemies, managing my equipment to keep mastering it and improve my stats. I’ve lost a lot of time to this stupid game, and though it may be inherently repetitive, and largely only iterative on its well-known prequel…it was still some of the most fun I’ve had this year.

$6.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-01 :: Category: Games

2. Where’s My Water? – Physics games can be distilled down to a pretty easy formula these days: combine an endearing protagonist to create an emotional connection to the player with gameplay that uses the physical interaction of objects in a simple enough way that even casual players can become hooked to for great success. Combine these two things, and profit is the hopeful result. Plenty of games attempt this. Very few succeed at it, though. Where’s My Water did just that.

The goal of the gameplay, which is simply to cut through dirt to guide water to Swampy’s bathtub, hits the notes of being deceptively simple with added complexity. Soon, dangerous substances are added, along with pipes, bombs, moss and other hazards. But that simple mechanic of cutting through dirt to guide the water with understandable physics, remains the core.

Of course, the fact that Disney makes Swampy come alive doesn’t hurt at all. Swampy is fantastically animated, as one would expect from, well, Disney. His worried and pained expressions while wearing his shower cap and waiting in his empty tub for his bath water causes that hook to sink in; I’m not just doing this for myself, I’m doing this for that little guy! He gets so happy when he gets his water that it becomes difficult to not become attached, to want to keep trying to get that water to him.

Disney found a way to create that kind of emotional connection to players, and look where they sit on this list. They earned it.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-09-22 :: Category: Games

1. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP – In reality, a lot of the hype for this game was in part due to its visual style: sure, retraux pixel art is en vogue among a lot of games this year, but it was the detail, the usage of it to become something more than just imitation of the good ol’ days of gaming. The mystery played a large part of it too – we knew how it looked, but how would it play? What was the setup for this game? What will happen?

What we got was a truly beautiful experience. The combat is simple and somewhat repetitive, sure. But everything else about it raises the experience to another level. The art and animation are splendid, of course. The music, composed by Jim Guthrie, is an incredible feast. The writing is at times humorous, but helps to set up a scene of a world with mystery and wonder, explaining only just enough when it needs to. The ending is so powerful it brought me to tears. It takes a powerful piece of art to do that, and it is something that few games have ever done to me. As a pure game, it is imperfect. But as an experience – I can’t say I experienced anything greater on iOS this year. This will stick with me for a while, and it is an easy choice for our game of the year.

$4.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-24 :: Category: Games

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-04-21 :: Category: Games

That’s it, there’s our list of the best of the year in iOS gaming. Did you have a preferred title? Let us know in the comments! We look forward to another great year of iOS gaming in the year 2012!

Part One: Games 16 – 25
In what was another fantastic year in the world of iOS apps & games, we are here to bring you the fifty titles that we, the staff of 148Apps, thought were the best of the year. Here are the gaming titles 6 – 15 in our Best Games of 2011:

15. Temple Run: There are typically two kinds of endless games: the horizontal endless runners, and the vertical endless jumpers. Well, here’s the third kind: running into the screen, moving left to right, making swift decisions to avoid obstacles or turn in the correct direction. The originality was well-appreciated, and the game is quite fun, to boot. With its shift to free to play, it also serves as one of the best examples of how to do this business model in a fair way.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-08-04 :: Category: Games

14. Scribblenauts Remix: When the first Scribblenauts game came out on the Nintendo DS in 2009, I immediately thought that with the need to type things in, and constant touchscreen usage, that it would work perfectly on the finger-friendly capacative touch screen of iOS devices. I am proud to report 2 years later that I was right. The puzzle platforming game where the items can be created from a vast dictionary of items, and modified with a series of adjectives, is as entertaining as ever, and is right at home on iOS.

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-10-12 :: Category: Games

13. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing – When Sega puts their full effort into a project, the quality really comes through. It’s a serviceable kart racer with the standard weapons and powerups available, with great controls and a useful turbo boost mechanic. That it’s on iOS gives it a lot of points where on other platforms it might just be another fun kart racer, but the fact is that this is a really good game, with top of the line features for iOS, even with a fun online multiplayer mode, which is something that is still always cool to check out on the platform. As well, the Sega fan service is part of the fun, too – racing through a Jet Set Radio series level while piloting a rocket piloted by a ChuChu from ChuChu Rocket feels more special than racing any Mario character at this point.

$3.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-06-23 :: Category: Games

12. Whale Trail: 2011 was a great year for endearing protagonists and endless runner games. Whale Trail was one of the true gems of the year, as it was a beautifully-designed game: the art was top-notch, the music composed by Gruff Rhys helped create a magical and whimsical world, and the gameplay was forgiving, but rewarded precision. The new challenge mode adds a new wrinkle to the game, as it provides short challenge levels that focus on skillful navigation of set levels, instead of randomly-generated endless levels.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-10-19 :: Category: Games

11. Super Crossfire – When I was helping to compile this list from 148Apps’ writers, one title kept recurring in the lists: this Chillingo-published shmup. It was one of my favorites as well; being able to flip sides in this Space Invaders-esque game that also boasts super attacks was an ingenious twist. The controls worked very well for a touch screen, the upgrade system was simple but provided a great way to feel more powerful as the game went on. It’s a time-tested genre with some modern twists, and it works perfectly.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-10-12 :: Category: Games

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-10-12 :: Category: Games

10. Dead Space – EA did the smart thing in bringing this horror shooter to iOS. They built the game for the platform – they optimized the controls and gameplay to work even with the touch screen involved. This is something that even games designed for the platform fail to keep in mind, and Dead Space just about nailed it. It became a must-play for fans of the franchise by being an original story, as well; it also managed to create a scary atmosphere even on a 3.5 inch screen, though playing on the iPad was definitely quite the experience.

$6.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-01-25 :: Category: Games

$9.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-01-25 :: Category: Games

9. iBlast Moki 2 – Each little puzzle in this game is like part of a delicate machine. The solution may be to move a bomb just a couple pixels to the left, or to set it off a 20th of a second later. When this game gets going, it requires the kind of planning, and intellectual approach that a game like Angry Birds, which does rely a lot on the physical act of using the trebuchet to launch the birds, cannot provide. There is nothing quite so satisfying as watching the little Rube Goldberg machine I’ve constructed of bombs launching fuzzy little creatures around succeed just as I planned, after so many tweaks. The fact that the game also comes with a level editor so robust that Godzilab themselves made all the levels in the game with it is just icing on the cake.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-08-18 :: Category: Games

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-08-18 :: Category: Games

8. Death Rally – Oh, look, it’s an isometric racing game with combat. How novel, said the liar. Well, it’s free, I might as well check it out. Hey, this is pretty fun. These upgraded weapons are pretty cool. I can race against Duke Nukem? How cool. I really want to beat the Adversary, but I need to race him perfectly. Just one more run, and I’ve got him. Okay, that was challenging, but I finally did it! Well, that was a novel use of a few minutes…wait, where did my afternoon go? Didn’t I have things I was going to do? Whoops. Guess I’ll just play some more.

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-31 :: Category: Games

7. Jetpack Joyride: My first extended experience with this game was the day I had to report for jury duty. That day was long, as I had to go through an extensive jury selection process for an important trial. I had plenty of downtime outside of that, and pretty much all of it was spent playing this game. One session turned into another, and then another, and then just one more to try to collect the coins to unlock that new jetpack, or that new outfit. It was some of the most fun any person has ever had on a day where they’ve been selected for a lengthy trial.

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-09-01 :: Category: Games

6. NBA Jam: The problem with bringing a lot of retro titles to iOS is the touch screen. Virtual buttons and joysticks are something that people still have problems with, but I myself have gotten used to them and just want people to stop griping about them. However, there is one glaring problem: any game that uses more than 2 buttons that need to be pressed regularly run into issues. The lack of muscle memory for where physical buttons are makes this a hassle. NBA Jam solved this by using a sliding mechanic – there’s a turbo button in the bottom right corner, pass button to the left, shoot button above. Sliding from turbo to pass or shoot when needed was simple, and it solved the three-button issue in a way that allowed this game to work its magic on iOS. And really, because the game had both been out of regular circulation in gaming for long enough to feel fresh again, and because its core mechanics were just fantastical enough to work without much tweaking in the modern day, this was just a ton of fun to play on iOS.

$0.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-02-10 :: Category: Games

$4.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2011-04-21 :: Category: Games

Come back on Friday to see the games we selected as the top 5 games of the year 2011.

In what was another fantastic year in the world of iOS apps & games, we are here to bring you the fifty titles that we, the staff of 148Apps, thought were the best of the year. Here are the gaming titles 16 – 25 in our Best Games of 2011:

25. SpellTower: Zach Gage’s second iOS release is another smash, as SpellTower proved to be a fun take on the ever-popular word game genre. It comes with some special restrictions to force more creative word usage, and the requirement to make words out of nearby tiles, managing the tile stack as well as trying to form words causes the game to have a deeper dynamic than many word games have.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-11-17 :: Category: Games

24. Hard Lines: I did not know it was possible for lines that are only one pixel wide to have character, but these lines shout out constant witticisms while they try to make them crash into each other. A variety of modes are featured throughout this Tron lightcycles and Snake hybrid, along with the ability to compete against friends’ high scores. Nothing like a good old high score battle to get the blood pumping, and to develop a little bit of hatred between friends that keeps the relationship strong!

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-06-09 :: Category: Games

23. Mega Mall Story: Kairosoft put out a ton of their simulation games on iOS this year; any one of them probably deserved to be in this slot, but Mega Mall Story gets the nod by taking elements from tower-building titles, with that signature Kairosoft charm to make it an experience that 148Apps writer Rob Rich is on record as saying that it made him squee. He said he squeed on the inside, but I leave it to our audience to judge the accuracy of the claim themselves.

$3.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-08-09 :: Category: Games

22. Mission Europa Collector’s Edition: iOS games typically shoot for a smaller focus than the other systems do, going for short-term, repeatable experiences. Mission Europa throws that out the window, bringing an original, and expansive first-person shooter with RPG elements to the platform. In the vein of such titles like System Shock (and its more well-known modern spiritual successor BioShock), this iOS original is proud to be big in a small world.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-15 :: Category: Games

21. Sonic CD - 2 years ago, a Sonic fan named Christian Whitehead pitched Sega on an idea for an iOS port of Sonic CD using a custom engine he designed for bringing retro games to new platforms. Two years later, the results are about as perfect as they could have possibly been, as the game has been redone in perfect fashion, with new tweaks and extras, including the ability to listen to either the American or Japanese soundtrack. It’s about as perfect as it could possibly be, and one can only hope that more Sonic games are brought to iOS in similar fashion.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-15 :: Category: Games

20. The Blocks Cometh: This game really grew on me after a while, once the initial control issues were resolved. The climbing gameplay with action elements really shines through – like Mega Man in the middle of a Tetris stack. The update later in the year adding a new Game Boy-inspired mode, new Arcade and Casual modes, along with a landscape control option helped seal this among one of the best titles of the year.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-02-17 :: Category: Games

19. Junk Jack: The most important game of 2011 may be Minecraft; it showed how one indie studio could make a million-seller without any traditional publisher support. Its open-world crafting gameplay was also brought to iOS, but it was alternative interpretations on the platform that may have been stronger overall. Junk Jack brings its own pixel art style to the table with 2D gameplay, but with all the resource harvesting, crafting, and survival intact.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-11-07 :: Category: Games

18. Anomaly Warzone Earth: I’m surprised, frankly, that more games like this haven’t been made yet, by which I mean tower offense, controlling the invaders among the winding paths and entrenched turrets that are usually the player’s job to lay down. The game wisely tweaks the concept enough to let it feel like it has its own strategy and planning that is truly unique to this kind of game. It would be hard to imagine that any other interpretation of tower offense would fare much better.

$3.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-08-11 :: Category: Games

$1.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-08-11 :: Category: Games

17. The Last Rocket: Shaun Inman, artist of the number one game in the “Sky is Falling” genre, The Incident, developed this little puzzle-platformer that was downright charming. Controlling an anthropomorphic rocket trying to escape from a factory, the levels were often challenging but required thought to complete properly. The 16-bit-esque design aesthetic only added to the game’s charm.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-08-11 :: Category: Games

16. Army of Darkness Defense: Here’s a dirty little secret: I don’t watch a lot of movies. Whenever a friend asks me if I’ve seen a certain movie, the answer is usually a resounding no. I haven’t seen the Evil Dead trilogy at all. That didn’t stop me from enjoying this game, which was a castle defense game mixed with side-scrolling action. The simple controls were perfect for mobile, the gameplay laid its hooks into me. I played it for hours on a plane ride in to Chicago, continuing to fight off the Deadite hordes with my boomstick. I was so compelled to write the review for the game that I actually wrote it on my phone while on a commuter train! Is that not motivation?

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-05-12 :: Category: Games

Come back on Wednesday to see the titles we ranked 15-6.

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